Real Christians. By Charles Price. Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1987. 174 pp. Paper, $5.95.
Charles Price is a British evangelist who first published this book in Britain under the title Christ for Real. Unfortunately, like too many modern evangelists, Price fails to wed good theology with gospel preaching. His theology of salvation is unapologetically of the “Lordship” variety. It is not a well-developed theology, but a repetition of the standard and expected lines. In fact, the inevitable contradictions in such a system are quickly displayed by Price.
For example, though he admits at the beginning of the book that he was not fully surrendered to Christ at the time of his own salvation (p. 12), this possibility is later denied to others when he asserts, “The Christian life begins with surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ” (p. 48). Another contradiction appears over the idea of “free salvation.” In a section entitled “The Cost of Free Salvation,” Price makes the statement, “We talk about salvation being ‘free,’ and this is wonderfully true, but only in a limited sense…. It is free insofar that we cannot purchase it or earn it.” But he goes on to say, “Only on the basis of paying the cost will we have the right to call ourselves ‘Christian'” (pp. 41–42).
Price also shows some weakness in handling the Bible. Not many Scriptures are expounded, and some which are, are handled carelessly (e.g., Acts 19:1–5, where the reception of the Holy Spirit is equated with salvation, p. 118). The requirements for discipleship (Luke 14:2633) are transposed on salvation, and, as expected, the expected exposition of the rich young ruler account is used to show that lack of surrender to Christ is the issue of salvation. Surprisingly, in light of the book’s title, James 2 and 1 John are only mentioned in passing (in one sentence). Also amazing is the statement that “Jesus Christ never talked about salvation being free” (p. 42), since in John 4:10 Jesus describes salvation as a “gift” which is “given” if one merely “asks. ”
One benefit of Price’s book is that it demonstrates the harmful implications of the Lordship Salvation doctrine upon one’s method of evangelism. Price’s own conversion to the Lordship doctrine came as he observed a friend counsel a person who was interested in becoming a Christian. The prospective convert was told, “Do not become a Christian until you … are willing to surrender everything to Christ” (p. 56).
Price’s book is intended to be a call for the reality of Christ in the Christian life. Since his worthy goal is not built on good theology, and he makes assurance of salvation elusive, the book will be of little help to Christians. Unfortunately, this book reflects a disturbing increase in the number of books and articles printed by this publisher which espouse Lordship Salvation (cf. Kevin Butcher’s periodical review). Let it best serve to challenge those committed to the free Gospel of grace to recognize anew the need for evangelists who will preach the Gospel clearly.
Charles C. Bing
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society